Preparing for 2013
The state of the in-plant printing market is healthier than it has been in the last few years—not because of any projected growth in in-plants, but because in-plant managers are reporting that they are under slightly less scrutiny. Don't let that lull you into a false sense of security, however. It does not mean you can relax. We are still suffering through a maddeningly slow recovery that will likely continue into next year and result in keeping you—or putting you back—under a microscope.
In this article we'll look at industry trends, including what we saw at October's Graph Expo 2012: the unrelenting drive to reduce costs, the importance of keeping your customers happy, and a renewed focus from industry leaders on strategic planning.
As many others have reported, this year's Graph Expo was noticeably different than previous shows. Most obvious to anyone who walked the floor was that it was quieter because fewer offset press manufacturers brought equipment. On the other hand, there was an increase in the amount of digital devices, such as the toner-based presses, inkjet presses and large-format inkjet devices.
In addition, there was a general consensus of opinion that large-format printing was a growth opportunity. It was discussed by several manufacturers of both roll-fed and flatbed devices. In one presentation I attended, I heard a manufacturer say that if you can bill for just three hours of work a day, you could make more than $100,000 a month in profits.
We're not sure if this is true; our general rule of thumb is that it takes longer or requires a higher utilization rate to make profit. But that's based on digital printing, which is priced more competitively. And remember, just because there is market research that shows growth potential for a specific product, does not mean everyone will succeed with it. (See sidebar.)
Howie Fenton is an independent consultant focused on analyzing and benchmarking operational performance. For 27 years he has served as a trusted advisor who helps companies implement best practices to reduce costs, streamline operations and increase value. To learn more, visit HowieFentonConsulting.com or email him at